PORTLAND, OR – Data from a comprehensive survey of nearly 5,000 people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis reveal that African Americans, Asians and Latinos are more likely than Caucasians to suffer psychological effects from the diseases.  The study also found very severe disease to be more common among members of these groups.

Psoriasis is the most prevalent autoimmune disease in the country, affecting as many as 7.5 million Americans. Appearing on the skin most often as red scaly patches that itch and bleed, psoriasis is chronic, painful, disfiguring and disabling. Up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, a related joint disease. There is no cure for psoriasis.

The study, released earlier this month by the National Psoriasis Foundation, is the largest effort to date to gather information on the psychological, emotional and social effects of the diseases. The results detail the extensive impact of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis on patients’ participation in the workforce as well as their emotional and social well-being.

Psoriasis is generally prevalent in people of Asian and some African descents, according to clinical findings. However, the National Psoriasis Foundation study found that people of minority descent who do develop psoriasis are more likely to experience very severe disease. While only 8 percent of Caucasians reported having very severe psoriasis, 10-23 percent in other racial groups had very severe disease. Nearly a quarter of African American (23 percent) respondents had very severe psoriasis.

“The prevalence of very severe psoriasis among minority respondents to the survey may both explain and be reinforced by the negative psychological and social effects they experience,” said Mark Lebwohl, M.D., professor and chairman of dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and chair of the National Psoriasis Foundation Medical Board. “In psoriasis, emotional and physical distress feed off each other, and emotional stress is a documented trigger for flares of both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.”

The psychological and social effects reported by minority respondents in the study included:

—  72 percent of minority respondents said psoriasis interfered with their capacity to enjoy life, compared with just 54 percent of Caucasian respondents.
—  75 percent said psoriasis impacted their overall emotional well-being, compared with 62 percent of Caucasian respondents.
—  Minority respondents were also more likely than Caucasian respondents to feel self-conscious, embarrassed, angry or frustrated, and helpless with regard to their psoriasis.
—  Minority respondents were more likely to say that psoriasis made their appearance unsightly, and that they choose clothing to conceal

“It is disturbing to learn the extent of the emotional and social implications of the disease in minority populations,” said Randy Beranek, president and CEO of the National Psoriasis Foundation. “We are committed to ensuring that everyone, regardless of their race or ethnicity, has access to treatment that will reduce both physical and emotional effects of psoriatic disease.”

The data in the survey were gathered by the National Psoriasis in 11 rounds of telephone and internet surveys over six years. Nearly 5,000 people with psoriasis participated, making this the largest study of its kind conducted with the psoriasis population. Eighty-seven percent of respondents identified their race as Caucasian; 2 percent African American; 2 percent Asian American; 4 percent Hispanic/Latino/Mixed ethnicity and 1 percent Native American.

The National Psoriasis Foundation encourages people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis to seek treatment for their disease, and to access information about education and support services including interactive online resources and local support groups, at www.psoriasis.org.

To read the full report, go to http://www.psoriasis.org/netcommunity/cure_panels.

U.S. Hispanic/Latin American PR agency

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